A blog about the amazing things teenagers do, about writing for teens, books for teens, and occasional forays into my world and the world of publishing.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Countdown to the Call: (Results Not Typical)

You know those miracle diet ads where previously overweight people gush about how easy it was to lose the weight and how much better they feel and the whole time they're gushing there's this little disclaimer in the corner of the screen, "Results not typical"???

I ALMOST feel like putting that in the corner of this blog post. Almost. (But apparently that has been banned from advertising and I don't want to get in trouble and...)

What are typical results for a writer anyway?

Every writer's journey is unique, and I don't want to derail someone's progress because they think they aren't moving fast enough. I know writers who have taken ten years to sell a manuscript. KUDOS to them for hanging in there. I know writers who were picked up out of the slush pile on there first try and...wait, I don't know anyone like that.

Anyway. I've debated for a long time whether I should even put up a post describing my journey to this point. I decided to do it because I want to give other writers HOPE. It CAN happen. It DOES happen. You can be picked out of the slush pile. A debut novel can sell in this economy. And most important you CAN and SHOULD enjoy ever little step in this journey.

So here's how my journey went down (results not typical).
Countdown to the call:
April 2008—(Kind of out of the blue, after years of wanting to and not being able to or not making the effort due to being swamped with life), I decide to start writing again.
July 2008—I finish my first manuscript.
July - December 2009--I send the manuscript out for critiques, rewrite the entire thing changing point of view and tense, join SCBWI and work on a sequel.
December 2009—I send out the first query for my 1st manuscript (ms). Received a bunch of rejections before I decided it needed some serious revision. (Still working on that one.)
January 2009—I finish the sequel to my first ms.
Septemberish 2009—I join a critique group and an on-line writing class from Ann Gonzales.
Octoberish--Writing prompt from Ann's class, “Describe something using every sense but sight.” When I present my paragraph to my group, I get a great response. The seeds of a story based on that prompt work their way into my head.
Decemeber 2009—Over Christmas break I start messing around on the story based on that prompt, despite having two other works in progress waiting. TIGERSEYE is born.
January—I take TIGERSEYE to my critique group and to “The Great Critique” at the Western Washington SCBWI meeting. Both groups tell me to keep going on this one.
January-April-- Many late nights of writing, many trips up to the ski hill passing the time by writing, many piano lessons/soccer practices/play practices writing in the car while I wait. (Let's just say, my laptop went with me EVERYWHERE.)
April 2010—I finish TIGERSEYE.
April-May 2010—The full manuscript of TIGERSEYE goes to my sister, husband, sister-in-law and my critique group.
May 5—Impatience gets the better of me and I send off the first query for TIGERSEYE before getting feedback. * NOTE: I actually wrote the synopsis and query before I finished the manuscript. *
May - July —I send out 14 more queries for TIGERSEYE. The third query goes to Sara Megibow (my future agent).
June 1 - July 20—Query results: Six requests for the partials of my manuscript and five requests for the full manuscript—long, exciting, stressful couple of months. Four agents offer representation—(see blog post, "The Other Side of Send.")
July 28, 2010—Accept representation from Rock Star Agent Sara Megibow at Nelson Literary.
September 1, 2010—A few revisions, edits, and a website later, Sara puts TIGERSEYE on submission to 14 editors. Because she is AWESOME all fourteen agree to read.
September 9, 2010—We receive our first “no thank you.” (Sounds so much nicer than rejection.)
September - October 10, 2010 Four more “no thank yous” but some interest from two editors who want revisions before they will go to acquisitions.
October 12, 2010—Conference calls with two wonderful editors from two great publishing houses. Each editor has revision notes that are completely different.
October 13, 2010—I start revisions for the editor who wants to change TIGERSEYE the least.
October 13 - 27th —Working on revisions, but I’m sick, my kids are sick, and things aren’t coming together the way I had hoped.
October 28th—I get THE CALL from Sara!!! We have an offer from Mary Kate Castellani at Walker!!!
October 28th—(Later that day.) I talk to Mary Kate Castellani about TIGERSEYE. I’m excited about her editing notes and excited to work with her.
November 4th—We accept Walker’s offer (after waiting for a response from the other editors who were still reading).
November 4th –The deal goes up on Publisher’s Weekly!!! See post: "I Got a Book Deal!"
From conception to the call (and the deal announcement) was about 11 months. It sounds really fast when it's not broken up into days, hours, minutes of agonizing waiting.
But like I said, RESULTS NOT TYPICAL. Your journey can be longer or shorter. I have been writing, learning, and querying for close to three years now, still I know this has been very fast. I know how blessed I have been. It has been an amazing journey with a lot more amazement (and work) ahead.
I will say this about TIGERSEYE. From the beginning it felt right. Of the three I've written this one felt like it was THE ONE. I don't know how to explain it beyond that, but I've heard that same comment from other authors about their manuscript that finally sells.
For my writer friends in whatever stage you're at: DO NOT GIVE UP. Every "no" is one step closer to "yes". Every moment spent writing is a learning experience. Every manuscript that gets filed in a drawer is one step closer to the one that will get picked up.
Enjoy the journey!
This is just an outline. If you would like to know more specifics about how all of this happened, I'm open to questions. Please ask!


  1. This was for me, right Jen <3 Thanks! I plan on "sharing" it. Just read some advice Sara Megabow had for writers. She said we (I) need to make a web page. Should get started on that :)

  2. That is an awesome journey! One day I will follow the road so many others have taken before me...

  3. Hey Jennifer,

    Awesome post :)

    Less than a year from conception to book deal is amazing. I'm really impressed, and I'm curious if you ended up making any of the revisions from the two conference calls, or if Mary Kate's offer negated the need to make any of those changes?

    Congrats again on your success and thanks a lot for sharing details of your journey :)

  4. Thanks Sarah. No one but me has ever read the revisions I did for the other editor. They're still on my computer. I got the offer from Walker before I was able to finish them.

  5. Love hearing about each person's journey. :) I think you made a great point. Everyone's path is different, so you just have to go with whatever yours is.

    Congrats again on your deal!